The hard thing about this kind of list is that there are so many great books that have been turned into great movies. Another problem with a list like this is that it is almost entirely subjective with little real logic behind it. There is also the statement that the book is always better than the movie, and with very few exceptions this is true. The following movies have been chosen because in some way they add depth to the book and each one of them could stand alone as its own work and still be considered exceptional.
10. Dolores Claiborne
Most attempts at converting books by Stephen King into movies have been lackluster at best but there are a few gems among the debris. It seems to be that Kathy Bates was born to play the roles she has taken on in Stephen King adaptations. Her work as Annie Wilkes in Misery was really good, but what she did in Dolores Claiborne was worthy of an Oscar. This movie manages to follow the book very closely while breathing a new kind of life into the telling of the story. If you haven’t seen this movie you really should.
What makes Holes both an awesome book and a great movie is that the story itself is unique. It’s about a kid who through a series of freak occurrences winds up in trouble and shipped off to a boys’ ranch complete with a cruel director and bullies. The tale is original and heartwarming and even if the movie didn’t achieve block buster status, it is a solid film and definitely worth the watch.
8. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
C.S. Lewis wove a masterful tale that has enthralled both children and adults for decades and given the success of the Lord of the Rings, it was only a matter of time before someone attempted to duplicate that success based off of Tolkien’s friend and contemporary. What is most impressive about The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe film is that it manages to follow the book extremely closely which with fantasy tales can be difficult to achieve.
7. Fried Green Tomatoes
The second movie on this list that has Kathy Bates in it appears on this list because both the book and movie truly capture the spirit of friendship, sacrifice, and how time will eventually leave us all feeling out of place. While Kathy Bates’ role was well portrayed, the true genius in this film was the work of Jessica Tandy. Her part was small but without it the move would have fell apart. If you are looking for an emotionally inspiring move, this is a good one.
6. Charlotte’s Web
Thank whatever powers that be that this movie was made before the age of computer generated images. While the animation is simplistic, this movie rates as one of the best movies based on a book because of the power of the story and the nostalgia of the animation. This movie made all of us examine questions of life, friendship, and death and did so without flashy special effects or in your face imagery. If you have children and have not introduced them to this movie, schedule a family night and watch this together, it will be a very rewarding experience.
5. The Princess Bride
The Princess Bride is a light hearted story about love and is one of the few movies that was actually better than the book. The book was good, but the movie was simply better. The Princess Bride is considered a bit of a cult movie, but actually does appeal to a very wide audience. If you are looking for a good movie for a date night, you can do far worse than the Princess Bride.
4. Blade Runner
Based on the Novella Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Blade Runner is a science fiction classic starring Harrison Ford as a man tasked with hunting down robots who don’t wish to die. As expected the robots don’t go down without a fight, but our hero eventually prevails. The premise may seem a bit underwhelming but the movie tells the story in with gritty visual effects. What makes Blade Runner worth watching is not only the fact it is a fun movie to watch but that it does make us to think about what makes us human.
3. The Road
Anyone who read this book before it was made into a movie probably thought that any attempt at making it a film would be disastrous. This book is told entirely in present tense and its imagery is best described as bleak. Maybe it’s the genius of Vigo Mortensen acting or the brilliant film crew, but whatever it is, The Road is simply a stunning movie that will leave you feeling a knot in your stomach by the end.
2. The Grinch who Stole Christmas
The Christmas classic the Grinch who Stole Christmas was made into a very entertaining animated TV movie back in the 60’s but was given the four star treatment in 2000. Starring Jim Carey as none other than the Grinch. Ron Howard not only manages to not fall on his face with this film but create a classic Christmas film. If you are someone who refuses to watch movies based on a book because the book is always better you might want to relent on that ideal a little and sit down to enjoy this one.
1. The Lord of the Rings
It was a common held belief that there any attempt at filming a live action version of these books would result in utter catastrophe. J.R.R. Tolkien himself believed the Lord of the Rings to be impossible to film. Yet Peter Jackson and company pulled off the impossible and turned the Lord of the Rings into one of the most significant theatrical releases in history. This movie is beyond amazing and easily winds up on the top of almost any list about movies. Yes, there are those who will bemoan the absence of Tom Bombadil until the end of time, but most people agree these movies are amazing.